Monday, 23 January 2012

A review of the apps on Virgin Media's TiVo

A while ago I bemoaned about the lack of movie streaming apps on Virgin Media's TiVo. Perhaps I should have covered the rest of the available apps in that previous post.

When I reviewed TiVo, I said:
Its this combo of Apps plus dedicated broadband connection which makes this PVR ooze with potential. Virgin are already talking to potential suppliers of video content, indeed, Virgin have declared that they have no fear bringing Apps for the likes of Lovefilm (who aren't shy about getting their content on as many devices as possible), Blockbuster and Spotify to TiVo. Virgin intend to have hundreds of TiVo Apps available within the next 12 months, so, watch this space and dream of the possibilities.
Indeed, Cindy Rose, Virgin Media’s director of digital entertainment, explained while talking to PaidContent:UK in December 2010 that:
We’re launching with a handful (of apps); within 12 months, we’ll have hundreds. We needed to start with the household names.

It’s just a question of doing the right deal, making sure our customers actually want it - power to the people; we’re a Virgin company. We’ve got an online forum we’re moderating to ask what they want.”

It would have to be the right deal commercially and add value. If Lovefilm came along and said ‘we’ve got something that adds to this’, we’d be the first ones to embrace them - we’re not precious about that.
I wouldn't imagine for an instant that TiVo would or should have hundreds of apps by now, 13 months later. But a quick look at the apps page for TiVo reveals just 13 apps in total. To be fair, 2 apps have been recently removed, these were promotional movie apps for Harry Potter and Twlight.

As for the rest of the apps:
  • YouTube
    The new version of this app fixed the issue of playlists and subscriptions not being recognised when you logged in. How? By removing that feature altogether, much to the disappointment of customers.
  • eBay
    I mentioned in my review that you couldn't login to your eBay account to place bids. The situation hasn't changed since then which continues to make this app next to useless.
  • BBC iPlayer
    Probably the best app on the platform at the moment, but its had its network issues. Plus, I have to say that the quality of streaming on the TiVo iPlayer app is inferior to the quality provided by the same app built into my Samsung TV.
  • VM Shorts
    One of many promotional apps seen on the platform. Speaking of which...
  • Sky Movies
  • Sky Sports
    Same again.
  • CNBC
    Great. If you have stocks and shares.
  • Twitter
    Would be so much better if it could be used with live TV, so that you could truly interact with live TV events such as sending feedback on the latest candidate who has just been fired on The Apprentice.
  • Weather, Celebrity and Photo Gallery apps.
    Unchanged, to be fair they did the job already.
  • Spotify
    New to the TiVO platform, can't really say much about this because it requires a subscription.
  • Millionaire
    Addictive to play. Which probably explains why you now need to pay to play it.
Lets hope that the number of apps increases and soon, because TiVo is in serious danger of being left behind in this area when compared to other devices - my Samsung TV has 19 apps just for watching VOD content, while games consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3 allow you to watch streamed movies from Lovefilm and Netflix, which isn't an option Virgin's TiVo provides.

Sure, Virgin have a deal with Flimflex (who are the primary providers of VoD Movie content for Virgin), but if Virgin are so worried about stepping on Flimflex's toes, then why encourage talks with the likes of Lovefilm to get Apped-Up on TiVo?

Still, the apps should continue to come, and hopefully they won't all be promotional apps. easeltv's core framework application has already been used for apps on TiVo and that framework will also be used in future apps. Also, we have a BBC Sports app on the way.


gmcausland said...

VM really need to get on a move on delivering new content on the Tivo especially on the apps front. I have had this box for six months. I hardly use it for other than switching the channels over and to play Spotify and You Tube.

I wonder exactly much resources and time are being made to develop in this area. Everything seems to be so painfully slow.

Come on VM! Reward the hundreds of thousands who have invested in these boxes!

Viola said...

Can't believe they haven't put a VM Mail app together yet either. Not like Googlemail flash clients are going to be hard to come by - just a config tweak and a reskin required surely?

And there's still no quick and easy way to check my Lottery Numbers like I could through the Beeb's Interactive portal.

I'd put money on a Lovefilm / Netflix / whoever app appearing this year though (not that I'm interested in that, but I guess it's a good way to monetize the platform).

NikC said...

I really, really hate Tivo, and wish I could return to V+. The Tivo engineer took my V+ box away, saying another team would be returning to move it upstairs, later I discovered from Virgin that apparently, this can't be done as it was discontinued in February.
I wish Virgin had told me this in advance.
I wish I could return to V+.
You don't know what you've got til it's gone.

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